How to Get Waves: The Ultimate Guide to 360 Waves

Waves are one of the most popular hairstyles among black men. The waves hairstyle is characterized by the unique 360 wave patterns created around the head. But despite being a coveted look, achieving it can be less than straightforward. Depending on your hair texture, getting waves can take up to several weeks.

Luckily, an understanding of the right methods, commitment, and a little bit of patience go a long way in getting the 360 hair waves you’re after. In this complete guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about getting this amazing hair look, including how to prepare your hair, train your waves, and maintain your look.

Prepare Your Hair

The first step is preparing your hair. Preparing your hair is crucial if you want to get the best results, so make sure not to overlook the following steps before you start.

1. Address Any Issues With Your Scalp

A healthy scalp is a prerequisite for getting 360 waves, which is why you need to make sure your hair and scalp are in optimal condition. You should address any issues such as dandruff or dry scalp before starting. Many over-the-counter scalp shampoos can help eliminate these problems.

You’re also going to want to make sure your hair is healthy. Invest time in repairing dry, damaged hair so that you have the perfect base to build your waves on.

2. Get a Haircut

Another part of creating the perfect canvas for your waves is having short hair. Go to your barber, tell them you’re trying to get waves, and ask for a short cut. A good rule of thumb is that you should have a close cut, but it shouldn’t be short enough to see your scalp.

We also recommend getting an edge up since it enhances the wave style when the waves appear.

how to get waves

3. Get Ready to Commit

Achieving the results you want is a matter of training your hair, and this process requires daily effort. The most critical part of learning how to get 360 waves is to know that there’s a commitment involved. Make sure you’re ready to invest some serious time in your hair; otherwise, it’s going to be impossible to get the desired results.

Train Your Waves

Once your hair and scalp are healthy, your hair is cut, and you’re ready to commit to getting waves, it’s time to get down to business: it’s time to train your hair.

1. Use a Wave Shampoo

There are many shampoos made specifically for African-American and black men in general who want to get waves. These shampoos are nice to have, but they’re not a must. It’s still possible to get waves using a regular shampoo; just look for something herbal, or a conditioning or protein shampoo.

Regarding how frequently you should wash your hair, you do need to wash it during this process, but fewer times than you do currently. Shampoos remove the natural oils from your hair, so it’s best to only wash it once per week at most. Make sure to use a conditioner afterward.

Some wavers opt for a co-washing method, which means they skip the shampoo and just use a conditioner. This method keeps the essential oils in your hair, and you can still rinse it every day.

2. Brush Your Hair

Brushing is the most critical part of the whole process, as this is what trains your hair to create a wave pattern.

how to get waves

A lot of wave experts agree that the only time you should brush your hair is when it’s wet. Keeping this in mind, blot your freshly washed hair with a towel, and start brushing. The technique involves starting from the crown of your head, brushing both down and out.

For the hair on top of your head, you’re going to want to brush it toward your forehead. For the hair on the sides of your head, you should brush forward and down, as if going toward your chin. Work section by section, making sure you don’t miss any part of your head. The whole process, when done correctly, can take up to fifteen minutes.

If you are brushing after shampooing and conditioning your hair, continue to the moisturizing step below. If you didn’t start with this step, however, you need to put a hot towel over your head. Soak a towel in hot water, rinse out any excess liquid, and put the towel on your head for a few minutes, applying pressure. Repeat this process on all areas of your head.

how to get waves

Even if you have already shampooed and conditioned your hair, you may still want to put the hot towel on your head after brushing. Doing this helps your hair absorb the moisture from the rag and become softer.

3. Moisturize

As you can see, there’s a lot of brushing involved in getting the waves you want. Over time, this practice can be pretty damaging to your hair follicles, so throughout the training process, it’s vital to keep your scalp moisturized.

Moisturizing has traditionally involved lots of pomades, but these hair products contain heavy petroleum that gives your hair a dense, gooey feel. Frequent pomade use can block your pores and cause acne, so we recommend using it sparingly. Instead, look for lighter moisturizers with shea butter and essential oils.

Though moisturizing is a critical part of proper scalp and hair care, you don’t want to overdo it either. Limit your moisturizing to once or twice a week at most if your hair is healthy, and up to three times a week if your hair is dehydrated.

4. Put on a Durag

Next comes the most critical part of the wave process: the durag. Anyone who is trying to get waves should be using a durag, no questions asked. It serves a couple of purposes: it protects your waves from the elements and seals in moisture.

how to get waves

When should you wear it? The most hardcore wavers will say that you should always wear your durag, or at the very least, you should put it on nice and tight for thirty minutes after brushing. You should wear your wave cap during sleep as well, as it will hold your waves in place.

Feel free to choose the type of wave cap you like best. Satin is one of the more popular fabrics, as it helps keep moisture in while preventing breakage. Polyester is another commonly used fabric, and velvet—though it can be hard to find—is in vogue at the moment.

Regardless of the type of durag you choose, you should repeat the conditioning, brushing, and durag process faithfully until waves appear. And if you need help learning how to tie your cap, here’s a tutorial with some helpful pointers.

Maintain Your Waves

Unfortunately, the hard work isn’t over once your waves have appeared. Waves require dedicated upkeep, so don’t let your effort go to waste and follow these steps.

1. Keep Brushing

The primary way to maintain your waves is to keep brushing. Even though you’ve achieved the look you were after, your brushing days aren’t over. You should continue doing your brushing regimen, as well as using a durag at night, which will keep your style intact.

If you notice that you’re having a hard time either getting or maintaining the wave style, you should know that most of the time this issue is caused by a lack of brushing. You should be brushing three times a day to keep your waves looking great.

2. Keep Up With Your Haircuts

Haircuts remain an essential part of the wave process, though you should probably get them less frequently now that you have waves. Aim for somewhere between every two to four weeks, depending on how long you want your hair to be. Your hair will likely be longer than you’re used to, but that just means that your waves will be deeper.

how to get waves

When you go to get your haircut, make sure your hairdresser knows what your goals are. They should avoid cutting against the grain, or against the direction of your waves.

3. Avoid Too Much Washing

Less is more when it comes to washing. You can rinse your hair as much as you need to, but shampooing should be practiced just once a week. Always follow your shampoo with a good conditioner.

Tips to Maintain Your Waves

Once you’ve achieved the perfect 360 waves, you want to make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Aside from following the advice we outlined above, here are some tips to help you maintain your waves.


Using hair products like conditioners is excellent for hair health, but healthy hair starts with what you put in your body. To boost your health, you may want to consider supplementing your diet with multivitamins. We also recommend taking biotin, a supplement that’s known for aiding hair health, as well as making it thicker.

You can purchase both multivitamins and biotin at your local pharmacy.


Along the same lines, make sure you’re getting enough water. It’s harder for dry hair to form the waves you’re after, so keeping it moisturized is essential. While conditioners and pomades help with moisturizing, keeping your hair hydrated begins with drinking the right amount of water daily.

Brush Only When Moist

Speaking of hydration, brushing dry hair is a no-no. You should always brush your hair when it’s a bit wet and has been adequately moisturized afterward.

Less Is More

Our last tip is not to go crazy with conditioners or pomades—a little bit of the product goes a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions black men have about attaining perfect 360 waves.

What Supplies Do I Need to Get Waves?

Before getting started, it’s essential to make sure you’ve got everything you need. The list isn’t long, but there are a few things you’ll need to have on hand to get waves, including:

  • A wave brush
  • A durag
  • A hair moisturizer or grease (pomade)
  • A shampoo
  • A conditioner

What Kind of Brush Should I Get?

The hairbrush type you get will depend largely on your hair texture and how deep you want your waves to be. In general, we recommend using a soft brush when your hair is short and a hard brush once it gets longer. One of the most highly recommended brushes for waves is the 100% Boar Bristles Diane brush.

How Long Does It Take for Waves to Appear?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer to the question of how long it takes for waves to appear. It depends on your hair texture and how much time and effort you put into your waves. It also depends on how healthy your hair is. The process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to up to six weeks, which is probably the average time it takes to see waves.

How Often Should I Cut My Hair?

When you first start the process, you should wait at least three weeks to cut your hair again. Waiting this long will probably mean that your hair is longer than you’re used to, but it will also mean your waves are deeper.

What Is the Wolfing Technique?

Wolfing is a technique that consists of not cutting your hair for an extended period—usually around four to six weeks, sometimes up to twelve. It trains your hair to lie down at the root, and it allows for deeper waves since your hair will be longer.

The problem is that wolfing can be tough to do since you’ll be dying to cut your hair. The rewards are typically worth it, however, because this technique will help you get the perfect 360 waves once you finally cut your hair.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it—the basics of getting 360 waves. Taking some time to learn about this classic black hairstyle goes a long way in achieving the look you want. Getting waves takes a lot of time and effort, but it will all be worth it once you finally see the desired results.

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